artistic rendition of t-cells

Benefits of 3D cancer models

A 3D model of a solid tumor provides insights about growth, differentiation, cellular structure, and tumor microenvironment. Scientists are developing solutions to create 3D culture and analysis techniques that imitate in vivo conditions to get more physiologically relevant results in less time.

Recent innovations coming from industry and academia have allowed for better understanding of cell to cell interactions. New technology developments and increased presence of protocols in this space have provided a framework for better cancer models.

3D cell culture resources

The expansion of 3D cell cultures derived from tumor cells or excised biopsies offers tremendous advantages:

  • Provides patterns of solid tumors
  • Functions as specialized tool for genomics, epigenomic, pharmacologic, and biochemical studies
  • Overcomes several limitations of traditional 2D cell models by revealing cell heterogeneity, intrinsic histologic structures, and cell-ECM communications

Presently, 3D models are extensively used as systems for studying various types of cancers: breast, colon, lung, pancreatic, cervical, and prostate. The substrate selected to culture and grow spheroids or organoids is a vital aspect in obtaining reproducible 3D cancer cell models.

Spheroids

Spheroids are well-designed cell aggregates used as engineered cancer models. They have the ability to boost the 3D construction of tumor growth to amplify tumor cell progression and to help reveal novel anti-cancer treatments. Tumor spheroids are able to meticulously reproduce the core properties of solid human tumors. They can be derived from cancer cell lines and may have the potential to function as mediators for 2D culturing models and for in vivo tissue xenografts. Tumor spheroids produced from permanent cancer cell lines are known to be avascular. They can induce micro-metastasis formation and have the potential to display cancer-like microenvironment features (e.g., cell-cell, cell-ECM exchanges, local nutrients transportation, gases, and growth factors).

Organoids

Organoids are 3D-derived stem cell models, either from embryonic or adult stem cells. This type of organoid can exhibit self-regulation potential, phenotypic traits of the organ they are grown from, and physiological modeling of the environment through genomic alteration.

Pluripotent or organ-regulated stem cells can be helpful instruments to induce organoid growth. Furthermore, they can mimic the in vivo 3D architecture and have the capacity of multi-lineage differentiation of different types of tissues (e.g., designing airway organoids from lung-derived stem cell to study lung physiology, patterning, and lung morphogenesis).

In addition, cancer organoids or tumors-in-a-dish can be cultivated with high effectiveness (with high in vitro clonal propagation) from primary patient-derived normal or tumor masses and can support replication of a patient-specific phenotype. All these distinguishing features of cancer organoids (e.g., colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, and brain cancer organoids) enable approaches to study patient-unique drug responses.

Organoids limitations:

  • Existing culturing techniques are not yet entirely developed to reconstruct the full biochemical and physical environment of the human body (e.g., brain organoid cells occasionally display gene expression differences from the cells they were planned to mimic)
  • Lack of innervation, immune cells, or tumor stroma
  • The lack of blood vessels restricts organoid dimensions and complexity

In summary, cancer organoids and tumor spheroids have the potential to be applied in many cancer-related fields, including drug discovery, toxicology, and disease modeling.

Featured 3D cell culture products

Plastics/cultureware

Nunclon Sphera 3D culture system—designed for spheroid culture (e.g., 3D tumor spheroids) and organoid culture (e.g., brain organoids) with a wide selection of formats. The 3D cell culture surface allows virtually no cell attachment to the cultureware, supporting the establishment of 3D spheroids and organoids via cell-to-cell aggregation through naturally secreted extracellular matrices (ECM).

AlgiMatrix 3D Cell Culture System is a three-dimensional, porous alginate cell culture platform which is chemically defined and  animal-origin free. Available in 6, 24, or 96-well formats.

Matrices

Geltrex matrix products—Gibco Geltrex hESC-qualified Ready-To-Use Reduced Growth Factor Basement Membrane Matrix is stored in the refrigerator (2–8°C) and comes ready to use, which means no thawing, diluting, or premature gelling.

Collagen—is the most widely used extracellular matrix (ECM) protein for cell culture, facilitating cell attachment, growth, differentiation, migration, and tissue morphogenesis. We offer Collagen for 3D applications and as coating solution.

Media & supplements

Gibco cell culture media and fetal bovine serum available in many popular and custom formats to suit your needs.

Save refrigerator space with BenchStable Cell Culture Media.

Decrease contamination risk with One Shot Fetal Bovine Serum conveniently packaged into pourable 50 mL bottles, available in in several formats to suit your research.

We produce an extensive selection of media supplements to ensure the reliability and consistency of your cell culture research.

Monitoring

When you want fast simplified cell health measurements use the Varioskan LUX microplate reader for your 3D cell models.

Countess II FL Automated Cell Counter accurately and reproducibly counts viable cells. Apoptosis and other assays can also be performed.

Use any of our intuitive EVOS Imaging Systems equipped with the EVOS Onstage Incubator to perform daily monitoring of your 3D cell populations and ensure proper growth and differentiation.

Discover our wide array of fluorescence reagents, assays and dyes for cell health, cell structure and cell function.

Plastics/cultureware

Nunclon Sphera 3D culture system—designed for spheroid culture (e.g., 3D tumor spheroids) and organoid culture (e.g., brain organoids) with a wide selection of formats. The 3D cell culture surface allows virtually no cell attachment to the cultureware, supporting the establishment of 3D spheroids and organoids via cell-to-cell aggregation through naturally secreted extracellular matrices (ECM).

AlgiMatrix 3D Cell Culture System is a three-dimensional, porous alginate cell culture platform which is chemically defined and  animal-origin free. Available in 6, 24, or 96-well formats.

Matrices

Geltrex matrix products—Gibco Geltrex hESC-qualified Ready-To-Use Reduced Growth Factor Basement Membrane Matrix is stored in the refrigerator (2–8°C) and comes ready to use, which means no thawing, diluting, or premature gelling.

Collagen—is the most widely used extracellular matrix (ECM) protein for cell culture, facilitating cell attachment, growth, differentiation, migration, and tissue morphogenesis. We offer Collagen for 3D applications and as coating solution.

Media & supplements

Gibco cell culture media and fetal bovine serum available in many popular and custom formats to suit your needs.

Save refrigerator space with BenchStable Cell Culture Media.

Decrease contamination risk with One Shot Fetal Bovine Serum conveniently packaged into pourable 50 mL bottles, available in in several formats to suit your research.

We produce an extensive selection of media supplements to ensure the reliability and consistency of your cell culture research.

Monitoring

When you want fast simplified cell health measurements use the Varioskan LUX microplate reader for your 3D cell models.

Countess II FL Automated Cell Counter accurately and reproducibly counts viable cells. Apoptosis and other assays can also be performed.

Use any of our intuitive EVOS Imaging Systems equipped with the EVOS Onstage Incubator to perform daily monitoring of your 3D cell populations and ensure proper growth and differentiation.

Discover our wide array of fluorescence reagents, assays and dyes for cell health, cell structure and cell function.